Belize’s Great Blue Hole Is Mysterious and Thrilling
When Jacques Cousteau arrived at the Great Blue Hole in Belize in 1971, he declared it to be one of the top five most interesting dive sites in the world. The Great Blue Hole is a circle of dark blue water located inside Lighthouse Reef just a few miles offshore from mainland Belize. Underneath the water lies a huge cave formation complete with stalactites, stalagmites, and tunnels.
Unlike most dive sites in Belize where the main attraction is the colorful fish and delicate coral, the Great Blue Hole is sparsely inhabited by just a few marauding sharks. The attraction of the diving the Great Blue Hole is the chance to explore a mysterious and gothic underworld. The Great Blue Hole was originally a limestone cave that formed on dry land millions of years ago. But when the glaciers began to melt some 150,000 years ago, the cave became submerged.
Scuba divers aren’t the only ones interested in exploring the Great Blue Hole. The iconic British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson will be at the helm of a submarine later this year as part of a team tasked with video recording and mapping the Great Blue Hole.
And a recent study of minerals taken from the cave structure in the Great Blue Hole has led to the discovery that the collapse of the ancient Maya culture around the year 900 AD was the result of long period of drought. Professor Andre Droxler of Rice University analyzed the cave minerals and discovered that Belize was caught up in an intertropical convergence zone which left Central America with very little rain while tropical areas in Brazil and Colombia received huge amounts of rainfall.
What caused the collapse of the ancient Maya society has puzzled archeologists for decades. But one recent discovery at Paynes Creek in southern Belize has revealed how the Maya culture fed its huge population of an estimated two million people. A study of a flooded peat section of southeastern Belize revealed that the ancient Maya were operating gigantic factories to produce salt from seawater and then using the salt to preserve fish and meat which was traded with Maya sites in the interior.
If you’re interested in a diving vacation, be sure to book your travels with Adventures in Belize (AIB). AIB not only offers diving trips but also can arrange for birding vacations, caving tours, and lodging at award-winning luxury resorts and hotels.